Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Use Less

Aquaman comic book cover with Aquaman dead on an oily shore, BP logo paper on his chestIt's been a long day, and I really wanted something quick and easy to post here. The Gulf oil spill doesn't exactly qualify.

But Maggie Koerth Baker's post on BoingBoing, plus several letters to the editor in the Star Tribune aligned. Plus this outstanding image, also via BoingBoing (originally from the Aquaman Shrine).

The letters, headlined We're Responsible for Future Generations, pointed to our collective responsibility for the oil spill. After noting that Americans today eat four times as much meat as we did in the "good old days" of 1950, one called on people to eat less meat: "If we all reduced our consumption of meat by 20 percent, which we might accomplish by not eating meat on two days a week, our fossil-fuel use would drop by as much as if we had all switched from average cars to Priuses." (Jeff Smith, Wheaton, Minn.)

Koerth-Baker points out that it wouldn't be too hard to drive a little bit less. "With a 9% reduction in national daily gasoline consumption, we could eliminate our need for offshore oil. At 22.4 miles per gallon, that's just 4.2 fewer miles of driving, per person, per day." And she concludes:

So, cutting our daily gasoline consumption by 9%. Some of it will be fun—biking, chatting with friends in a carpool, coming up with new activities to do within walking distance, instead of driving for our entertainment. Other times, it will be a pain in the ass. But, that's our responsibility. That's what we owe for our role in this mess.
And what better way to get people to drive less? Increase the price of gas with a tax. $4.00 a gallon was a price that sure had an effect on driving habits.

Even if it was rebated to some people (low-income, farmers, maybe truck drivers), it would still cut consumption among some of those folks because it's human nature to react to the up-front cost.

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